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I was looking into using emacs/orgmode to maintain a personal log of everything i do (if you have any recommendations on this, do let me know). I’ve tried a couple of journal apps (day one and journey) but for me longevity of the platform is more important although I do like a nice ui and cross platform sync. I was wondering what others in the community do ?

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    I use paper. Specifically I use a paper journal. Sometimes I transfer some paper notes to onenote, or to a text document, but mostly I just use the paper.

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      Two answers: for a lot of things, I use jrnl. Easily allows you to have multiple journals and easily outputs markdown if you want, and lets me use my editor of choice. And the tagging system makes it easy for me to notate if I’m making an entry about a particular problem I solved or issue I hit, which in turn makes it easier for me to find that information again if I hit similar issues/need to reference it.

      The other thing I use heavily though is a reThink tablet, where I just write out longhand. That works better when I’m trying to sort out my thoughts. jrnl has generally been more helpful for me when I’m truly trying to log stuff.

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        This looks super nice! I did not know about this before!

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          Looks nice but seems like it’s unfortunately broken for Mac. Installed via home-brew but it seems like it’s incompatible with the Python version supplied by home-brew (3.8).

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            It’s not broken on Mac; it’s broken on Homebrew, and that only since late last week. They’re having a really bad Python packaging situation at the moment for whatever reason; pipx broke at the same time. If you install through any other mechanism (plain pip, pipx, Nix, etc.) I promise it works fine.

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            It seems like the encryption is very basic. Do you use that feature, or do you retain your privacy in other ways? https://jrnl.sh/encryption/

            https://www.nccgroup.trust/us/about-us/newsroom-and-events/blog/2009/july/if-youre-typing-the-letters-a-e-s-into-your-code-youre-doing-it-wrong/

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              I’m aware that that’s a feature, but I don’t use it; my hard disk is already encrypted, and if you’re on my disk, that’s probably one the less interesting things.

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            Neovim, a markdown file, and a five line shell script that creates a header with today’s date.

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              Same but with a slight difference, it also copies (at the bottom of “today” file, with a ––…— separator) the content of the yesterday “today” file. Then it updates the symbolic link of the today file to the file just created. Helps me keep track of what is has not been done as planned.

              I’m still hesitating to give a try at orgmode though.

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                I just set this up myself yesterday.

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                Zim, a desktop wiki.

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                  This is what I currently use but the task list plugin does not provide some of the features I am looking for. I wish it was more along the line of org-agenda

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                  Pen and paper, works offline, no need for sync (unless I forget it somewhere). Perfect tool!

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                    Standard Notes. Open source, self-hostable, end-to-end encrypted, and available everywhere (web, desktop, and mobile apps). Has a wonderful lack of features (which I consider to be one of its best features), but also a plugin system that allows adding features like file attachments and Markdown rendering.

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                      Do you feel that you utilize the premium features enough to justify the recurring subscription?

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                        I just upgraded yesterday, and I will say “Extended” transforms the whole thing. The Simple Markdown Editor, Futura dark theme, uploading attachments (FileSafe), and “No Distraction” mode are super nice. A while ago I had assembled a fairly complex system for longer Markdown writing and journaling with Visual Studio Code, but Standard Notes is now so nice, I think I may just use it exclusively.

                        Though you should know some plugins aren’t available on the Android app, such as FileSafe. Themes and editors are though.

                        I recommend using it a few days or weeks in Free mode, then sign up for a 1 year subscription if you like it. If I’m still using it heavily after 1 year, I’ll switch to the 5 year subscription. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee too.

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                        I love SN. I replaced Bear, Things, and another app I’m forgetting with it. The plugins are perfect for my uses too.

                        Eventually I’ll get around to replacing Basecamp with it too (I barely use it but am still paying for it, like a lazy fool).

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                          Do you use org-journal ? Do you mind describing your workflow ?

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                          I have a work log, did.txt, with day by day bullet points. Like so:

                          2019-12-25 (Mon):

                          • ticket #8811:
                            • added class X with unit tests,
                            • updated Y to use X
                            • Figured out why Z broke (int overflow UB)
                          • Meeting on XXX with person A, B and C (1.5h)

                          This repeats itself for every work day. This file is synced with Syncthing to a work laptop and home.

                          Once I quit a job I rename the file to did-$job.txt

                          Wonderful when writing hours or checking up on what you did last summer, eh, I mean this sprint.

                          I have a separate file with more detailed notes, snippets and commands. Longer stuff is put up into internal documentation or unit tests or tickets.

                          Tools like apps or wiki’s require too much effort to maintain and setup, or the longevity is not guaranteed (with apps). And what is simpler than a text file?

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                            Paper.

                            I wrote about it yesterday: https://j11g.com/2020/01/02/the-perfect-notebook/

                            • It’s harder to edit
                            • Less distraction
                            • Always available
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                              I appreciate all of your points about paper. Where it falls down for me is:

                              • It is extremely cumbersome to copy/paste from/to my terminal
                              • I like hyperlinks
                              • Searching through a paper notebook is extremely slow if you’re looking for something you’ve not indexed
                              • My penmanship is terrible

                              I don’t have a system I love, currently. My current experiment is a small notebook that I carry when not online, and a directory full of markdown files named with dates. I transfer from the paper to the markdown irregularly when I feel I’ve captured something I’m likely to want later.

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                                That’s actually not a bad hybrid solution! I find journaling valuable, for the sake of journaling itself, but there is indeed of course no reason I couldn’t transfer the so called captures, which are in my case mostly (valuable) byproducts of journaling to a computer.

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                                  My biggest hangup on paper is the inability to easily back it up. If I lose/forget a notebook, that’s a lot of data… just gone.

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                                http://dynalist.io - Similar to workflowy but more feature-full. I use it for my my worklog, errorlog, and lifelog. Extended notes are in markdown so in addition to rapid logging it is alright for long form writing as well.

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                                    Not using Cherry Tree for a journal but do want to chime in because it’s a beautiful tool. Mature as well, works with Wine and just does everything you expect. Zim is an open source alternative, but not as feature rich.

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                                      Cherry tree will import Zim wikis if anyone ever wants to switch.

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                                    hate to admit it but I still use vimwiki. https://github.com/vimwiki/vimwiki

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                                      what’s bad about vimwiki?

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                                        To me, nothing. It satisfies my core needs just fine. Been using it for a very long time.

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                                          ahh ok. i was just confused because you hate to admit using it ;)

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                                      I am currently experimenting with TiddlyWiki and its journal feature which has a stated goal of being self-contained and staying usable for the long term. And has many options for storage.

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                                        What mechanism do you use to save (and sync across machines) tiddlywiki pages?

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                                          I would be interested in this as well unless op is thinking about using a hosted tiddywiki instance.

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                                            I have Caddy with the webdav and jwt plugins. It works great until the jwt expires, so turning off autosave is a must.

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                                              I am still experimenting. Right now I use the node based server on my laptop, running against a data directory in a Dropbox folder. But this is more for backup than sync.

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                                                My ideal case would be any solution that involves each save directly writing to the local file (a Chrome extension, perhaps?), so I can just sync that file in Keybase filesystem, and get automatic sync as a result.

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                                              a lot of people complain that tiddlywiki becomes unusable once you have too many tiddlers. I’ve tried it out and it works but i’m backing out for this reason

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                                              While it is Mac only, I’ve been using Things 3 for a while. It has a decent enough API for me to sync Jira and Things which is really nice.

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                                                How do you sync Jira and Things?

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                                                  I’m using OSA scripting bridge between Things and Javascript to pull all of my assigned issues into projects. This lets me have notes and subtasks on top of our poorly configured Jira projects.

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                                                    Sounds interesting, do you have any code to share?

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                                                    I would also very much like to know the answer to this question!

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                                                  You may call me a mad man, but I just have a journal.txt file in my Dropbox’s root that I edit with Notepad. I also have a bunch of other files setup similarly…

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                                                    I use journal.txt in Standard Notes. It’s pinned so I don’t have to search for it. I only started doing this last month.

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                                                    OneNote. I wish the cross-platform situation was better, but it has by far the best experience.

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                                                      What platform is not available? I doubt there is a linux native client, but the web version works really well.

                                                      I have it on Mac, iOS, Windows 10, and the web, and I’ve never had any issues. Syncs well and just works.

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                                                        AFAIK linking between notes is and has been broken for years on Android. They might have fixed it now for what I know.

                                                        That said this reminds me that I am now on iOS and can try of linking between notes work there.

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                                                      I blogged about my work journaling setup last year. I use the same system for a personal journal. Simple markdown files organized by ISO3339 date (properly sortable). The scripts have been tweaked but are still essentially the same. Key for me is super-low friction to add a quick note so I have hotkeys mapped and use yad to prompt for input and can easily take the content of the clipboard as input too.

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                                                        I guess you have a typo in there: I wondered what important ISO date format I had been missing since I didn’t know ISO3339, but it turned out to be about “Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry” :-)

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                                                          Oops I mean RFC 3339 not ISO 3339 https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3339

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                                                        I use TOML to write mini journal entries, and then parse it using tomland and render it using my static site generator rib. I use Keybase to sync the generated HTML, so as to be able to view it from any device.

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                                                          I use Syncthing to keep a single Markdown-formatted text file named “journal.md” synced across my Linux laptop, desktop, and server as well as my Android phone. I edit the file with Neovim on Linux and Markor on Android. I’m pretty sure this is the ultimate setup for anyone who wants an open system with guaranteed longevity as I’ve yet to find anything that comes close to beating it (except for maybe good ol’ pen and paper).

                                                          If you’re looking to use Org-mode instead of Markdown, keep the Syncthing setup and just substitute Emacs for Neovim and Orgzly for Markor!

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                                                            I use orgmode - http://orgmode.org/. (Which I also use for organizing work, side projects, personal life, accounts, and even presentations courtesy org-present and org-present-remote (the latter of which I wrote)).

                                                            For my personal journal, I encrypt with GPG and store my encryption key on a Yubikey 5 Nano - https://www.yubico.com/product/yubikey-5-nano.

                                                            In all cases, I synchronize files across my devices (laptops, and mobile) with Syncthing - https://syncthing.net/.

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                                                              i use organice

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                                                                I second organice. It works well for journaling with a capture template. It equally works well for other kinds of support documents and todos. You can even generate an agenda out of your notes.

                                                                Also, it’s FOSS, so you don’t have to worry that your work will be made obsolete at some point.

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                                                                I wrote void because I love mindmaps, time series, and TUI’s and didn’t want to leave my terminal to take notes, plan my day, visualize ideas with mindmaps, and track my progress

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                                                                  Hey @spacejam,

                                                                  I love void!

                                                                  What are some future directions you plan to take it?

                                                                  • For example, could it be used as an index to a file or a specific position in a file. Say, I have notes in a .org file, that I could jump to from the terminal. Is this an intended use-case?
                                                                  • Are you planning to add line-editing support? Or is that by design to restrict the length of nodes. Currently we are required to backspace to the edit point.
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                                                                  ../log/2020/20-01-04.txt — a file for every day, with a shell script to make/edit the file. I also used Day One for a couple of years, and still like it.

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                                                                    care to share the shell script?

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                                                                      Sure thing:

                                                                      #!/bin/sh
                                                                      
                                                                      mkdir -p ~/Documents/log/$(date +"%Y")/$(date +"%m")
                                                                      echo "\n\n---\n\n" > ~/Documents/log/$(date +"%Y")/$(date +"%m")/$(date +"%y-%m-%d").txt
                                                                      
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                                                                    I wonder what you hope to accomplish with the journal?

                                                                    I make use of Simplenote (https://simplenote.com/) to jot down quick notes. It is open source and has desktop apps across Mac/Win/Lin, native mobile apps, and an API that someone has nicely wrapped up for vim. The company behind WordPress (Automattic) has committed to running it as a free service.

                                                                    But I don’t really use it to keep a “journal”. The closest I come to that is that for the last ~4 months, I track all my working time in about 10 categories (e.g. Meetings, Code, Inbox Zero, Planning) using the proprietary (free) tool Toggl, which is like a SaaS synchronized stopwatch with native mobile / desktop apps and a simple reporting backend.

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                                                                      I’m thinking more along the lines of journaling and dumping all my thoughts like a second brain. Its not just for work but also for personal things.

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                                                                        Gotcha. You may find Simplenote a good fit; its main advantage is its simplicity (it’s just a cloud-synced folder of plain text files), its ubiquity (native apps everywhere make it easy to quickly jot stuff down), and that even though it is open source, it’s also fully hosted for you. There’s also markdown support, optionally per-file, and the ability to publish notes. But since it’s just plain text, it won’t assist you any way in the actual journaling technique, and doesn’t support any inter-linking between notes. I usually find that stuff is “YAGNI” material anyway.

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                                                                      For my own stuff, I use Joplin with wsgidav as a backend. I use it primarily for note-taking and to-do lists rather than journalling per se.

                                                                      In work, I use Bear, and I tag my journal notes, and put the ISO week date in the title.

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                                                                        A mishmash of:

                                                                        • nvalt+simplenote(tickling)
                                                                        • markdown files in various folders (journaling + more formal notes)
                                                                        • pinboard (usually website notes quotes)
                                                                        • trello (todo lists)

                                                                        I’ve been trying out Roam this past week to replace the second bullet for journaling + booknotes. Enjoying it though am currently fighting between it and pinboard when it comes to website notes.

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                                                                          I like roam but personally i would like to use a platform that can sustain in the long run. I can see open source tools having a longer life than a web based tool.

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                                                                            I’m having a bit of trouble understanding your comparison of “open source tool” and “web based tool”. I see it as just a sea of tradeoffs as someone who both pays for tools I depend on and spends time learn/contributing to open source tools. I’m hoping roam largely grows into something with some pdf/web archiving features, something I already am used to paying for despite knowing I technically could do the same thing in a self-hosted manner.

                                                                            Sleuthing through old bookmarks, I did see a windows app called ConnectedText with the same double-linking feature, but it’s been abandoned from what I can tell. Calca could be seen as another example (it’s falls a bit more in line as a text editor rather than something with databasey features), but again, the app is seldom maintained (in some sense, it’s reached a state of completeness but there’s some bugs I’m not sure I’ll ever see fixed in it).

                                                                            Conor & Tiago talk a bit more about business/app abandonment here: https://youtu.be/Hw2kJF_kxjE?t=2733

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                                                                              what i meant was, I would be more comfortable using a tool for the next 10 years or so without having to constantly worry about when its gonna go offline (I hope roam doesn’t and gets big). If its open source, even if i pay for the tool now, I know that sometime in the future, I can continue using it.

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                                                                          I keep a daily journal in a Google Sheet (totally inelegant, but it works). One column for date, another column for subjective “daily rating” (how did I feel today?) and a third that contains a journal entry.

                                                                          I’ve been using this system for like 4 years. It’s a pain an the editing experience isn’t great, but it’s dead simple and keeps my data portable, which is why I’ve stuck with it.

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                                                                            I’ve started using “The Archive” for journaling and general “top of mind note taking”. I sync the notes directory⁽ᵃ⁾ between computers with Syncthing. Overall it works great, and I’m really happy with my setup.

                                                                            ⁽ᵃ⁾: “The Archive” uses plain text for its file storage, which is great

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                                                                              PFT (App::PFT), which is my own static website generator. It boils down to text files in markdown format, written with $EDITOR, handled and compiled into a site made of html pages

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                                                                                I used to use Orgmode for my work logbook (with org-journal), but I switched to Agenda because I wanted something that supported both handwritten notes on an iPad (something I find I do a lot now in work meetings) and typed notes on a desktop (Orgmode obviously only does the latter).

                                                                                Agenda isn’t perfect: its editor pales next to emacs of course, and I wish it had better outlining support (it just offers word-processor-esque indent/outdent). However it is simple enough, and date-focused enough, that I find it makes an excellent logbook.

                                                                                I still use Orgmode for my non-logbook notes and all my other writing though.

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                                                                                  I wish i had a mac, I love Agenda and Things

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                                                                                  What is that log for? Do you search it or compute some aggregations and statistics? Do you store structured data into it or just text notes?

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                                                                                    Several years ago I searched for a good journaling solution. I ended up with iDailyDiary Pro. It has decent full text search and easy export for backups. I type the journal entries into Standard Notes on my phone each night, then paste it to iDailyDiary the next day.

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                                                                                      I use telegram. Easy sync between devices. Support markdown. Also using it as bookmarks. I created private channels such ad politics, education, tech, coding etc.

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                                                                                        I have a little rails app that I use through my browser that has some convenient functionalities. Saves to sqlite. I’d like to migrate it to something else, but haven’t worked up the motivation to do so yet.

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                                                                                          I have a little Go application that I use for journaling (and a few other things). If I ever port it to Nim, I might try to polish it up for use by other people more.

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                                                                                          I use Pelican for pretty much anything. It’s a static website generator that is very extendable and hackable in Python.

                                                                                          For personal journal I use minimal theme that I wrote: pelican-journal - Just like lobsters it’s focused on tags so going back and finding something is really easy.
                                                                                          I like to start journal entry at the end of the day, simply starting up a Markdown file in my pelican directory and going at it.

                                                                                          Other than that for minor tasks I’m a big fan of TaskWarrior as it acts as a very organizable todo list as well as saving history.

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                                                                                            If I am allowed to mention something I’ve made that’s relevant without it seeming spammy, I use Exist, a personal analytics tool that allows a mood rating and short note each day alongside the core quantitative data like activity, productivity, and sleep metrics etc. It didn’t really start off as a journalling setup, and there’s a character limit, but I find it quite useful to have a journal of what I was doing (and how much of it) alongside how I felt then. On my most happy days I tend to write about special occasions that occurred, and seeing friends, which is probably not a groundbreaking discovery :)

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                                                                                              Mainly Evernote for personal documentation on things I’m working on. I have a few different notebooks I contribute to. Mainly just process steps that I forget a lot, code snippets, and commands I don’t wanna look up again.

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                                                                                                Pen and paper. I like both Hobonichi Techo and The Travellers Notebook for journals. For pen I’m using many different Pilot hi-tec-c4 and my mechanical pencil is a Pentel Graphgear.

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                                                                                                  I really expected Notion to show up in one of these responses. Maybe it’s not quite the thing for the Lobsters crowd, but it seems to fit exactly this role: it apparently can set you up with a personal wiki, daily journaling, and project management stuff really well. I haven’t used it myself, but I keep hearing that it’s pretty good – I’m just kind of afraid of the total buy-in it seems to require.

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                                                                                                    I’ve tried Notion before. Although I like the tool and constantly hear about it from others, I think it suffers the longevity problem (checkout the longevity statement from standard notes). Last i checked sync to a google drive or dropbox is missing, and their export to markdown is super basic at the moment with a lot of issues.

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                                                                                                      For sure. That was part of my thinking when I was trying out Notion too – I have to take the time to set it up, and then I have to truly believe that it’ll be the right thing for me long-term. Evernote’s slow demise has sort of eroded my trust in proprietary brain-dump tools.

                                                                                                      longevity statement from standard notes

                                                                                                      Here’s the link for anyone who, like me, hadn’t heard of this before.

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                                                                                                    I use trillium notes, as it offers tons of features for linking and organizing notes and has markdown support as well.

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                                                                                                      looks very Interesting! Does trilium use plain text (seems like it uses sql-lite ?)

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                                                                                                        Yeah, it uses a database to store all the notes, which allows it to handle a large number of notes quickly. It does give the option to export all the notes markdown if you need to edit them elsewhere